Positive Reinforcements When Parenting Toddlers

Positive Reinforcements When Parenting Toddlers

The parenting arena is extremely challenging, especially when dealing with toddlers. Kids don’t have discipline and they don’t have an instinct to follow instructions.

Positive reinforcement is a way to reinforce discipline among your children. It focuses on the amplification of good and positive behaviors in your children and suppressing negative emotions and behaviors.

Simply put, kids respond better to appreciation than to correction or criticism.

By using the tool of positive reinforcement, you can tap into the individual strengths of your children and attend to their positive interests and traits. This allows you to effectively connect with them and eventually empower them to become productive and good individuals.

While there are many positive reinforcement forms, such as toys, candies, or treats, research shows that verbal praise is the most effective type of reinforcement.


When to Give Positive Reinforcement?

It is highly unlikely that your kid doesn't do something positive. All kids do various positive things, but misconduct highlights more than positive behaviors such as fighting with siblings or screaming while playing. On the other hand, good behavior is usually quiet, such as doing homework independently or making a drawing sitting alone.

As a parent, you need to keep an eye on such quiet moments when your child participates in activities or showing behaviors that you like or approve of. You should actively look for these efforts and pay attention to them.

Even in apparently annoying situations, you can find something positive. For instance, if you see all the toys spread in the room with just a few in the basket, appreciate that he/she has kept some toys in the basket and he/she can put the rest too to clean the room.

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What is the Right Kind of Reinforcement?

The right kind of reinforcement is the one for the efforts and not for the outcomes. Focus on your child's efforts to do something instead of focusing on what he/she end up achieving. For instance, if he/ she help you in the cleaning room and end up spilling something, don't snub him or her. Instead, appreciate the efforts before addressing the situation.

 If you focus more on spanking and scolding your child for the outcomes and not his/her efforts, they may become skeptical about the praise. Stay consistent and sincere with your positive reinforcement and you’ll soon start seeing the results.

toddler with camera


Is it Right to Give Reward for Child’s Good Behavior?

You may find it logical to give a reward for a child's good behavior in the form of a treat, toy, or praise. But giving this reward may make it look like a bribe and it does not promote long-term behavior modification or adoption. Appreciation and giving positive attention to your child are more rewarding and help develop long-lasting behaviors.

However, if you want to reward for any positive behavior, such as helping with emptying dishes, there is no harm in that. But don't expect that your child will start acting on this every other day. This reward-giving helps achieve short-term scenarios and once your child becomes regular, you can phase it out.


How to Handle Negative Behaviors?

If the negative behavior of your child is not harmful or dangerous such as whining about gaining attention, you should simply ignore it or leave the place. Ignoring the irritating or damaging behavior gives your child a message that such behaviors won't get your attention.

Your kids eventually learn that such behaviors aren't effective in attracting your desired attention and stop doing them. Once they stop, you can start discussing other things with them or divert their attention to other things.

You can also distract or redirect your child when he/she is behaving negatively. Don't say 'no'; rather, give them an alternative. For instance, if your kid starts climbing the dinner table, redirect his/her attention to toys or books and say that we eat meals at the dinner table so let's play with your blocks and build something.

On the other hand, if your child shows dangerous or aggressive behaviors, you should get immediately involved and remove them from the situation. You can discourage their negative behaviors by giving negative reinforcement such as restricting their playtime until they learn to control.

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Tips to Give Positive Reinforcement

Whether your child is petting the pet or building something with blocks, using colors on coloring books, or helping you pick stuff, you should reinforce their positive behaviors.

Immediately praise them with words and express through actions. Give them a hug and a kiss with few words of appreciation like, 'great! You have done an amazing job by putting your toys in a box. However, you should avoid generic praises such as 'good girl.' Labeling the exact positive behavior of your child while praising helps to reinforce that behavior. Plus, use a positive tone and voice, which reinforces your message. Praise your child throughout the days several times.

You can use your body language as positive reinforcement. Giving a high-five or a hug provides strong positive reinforcement that your child has done an excellent job. Cheering and appreciating also exhibit your appreciation of your toddler's behavior. Don't indulge in a complex positive reinforcement system; simple things do better than complicated ones.

Don't use food to reward positive behaviors as it may associate food with good behavior and misguides your child. Instead, educate your child that food is for body nourishment and not a treat for positive behavior or job done right.


Final Thoughts

Positive reinforcement is a powerful psychological tool to help you teach and reinforce positive behaviors to your toddlers. However, you need to be tactful about using positive reinforcement. Identify the conditions and behavior when you should give positive reinforcement and don't focus on the outcomes. Give positive reinforcement on the efforts that your child put in while performing some positive tasks.


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April 15th, 2024

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